Tag Archive for: Hardenbergia violaceae

When people think about what a desert garden looks like, what comes to mind? Perhaps, visions of lots of brown with rocks and a cactus or two?

While you can settle for rocks and some cacti, the truth is, we can have so much more! Imagine a landscape filled with the colors of the rainbow – shades of red, orange, purple, pink, and yellow.

I’m going to share with you 8 colorful plants that you will find in my desert garden. All are colorful and thrive in a hot, dry climate:

Colorful Plants for Desert Garden

Colorful Plants for the Desert Garden

Bougainvillea – Bougainvillea ‘Barbara Karst’

You can’t beat Bougainvillea for the vibrant color in the garden. It thrives in our dry, hot climate and flowers off and on spring through fall. Record-breaking heat doesn’t bother it in the least. It is a great choice for covering a bare block wall and can handle those challenging west-facing exposures. For maximum flowering, they need to be in full sun. For those that don’t like the messy flowers, you can opt for dwarf varieties or plant one in a large pot, which will limit its size.

Hardy to 20 degrees F. Plant in full sun for optimal flowering.

Colorful Plants for Desert Garden

Coral Fountain – Russelia equisetiformis

Often referred to as Firecracker Bush, this tropical beauty has a lovely cascading growth habit. Arching stems produce orange/red tubular flowers that delight hummingbirds. Blooming occurs spring through fall. This shrub takes a year or two before really taking off, but it’s worth the wait – I like to use them in groups of 3 to 5. It is also a good choice for adding to large containers – especially blue ones!

Cold hardy to 10 degrees F. Plant in full sun.

Colorful Plants for Desert Garden

Firecracker Penstemon – Penstemon eatoni

Winter color is often lacking in desert gardens. However, there are many plants that offer color through winter. This western native is my favorite during winter and spring in my front garden when it burst forth with brilliant orange/red blooms. Hummingbirds really enjoy the blooms as there aren’t many other plants for them to feed on this time of year. Prune off spent flowering stalks once the flowers begin to drop and you may get another flush of blooms to extend the season. It can be hard to find Firecracker Penstemon in box stores but local nurseries usually carry them.

Hardy to -20 degrees F. Plant in full sun.

Colorful Plants for Desert Garden

Yellow Bells – Tecoma stans var. stans

Admittedly, there are many yellow-flowering plants in the desert, but this one is my favorite! I look forward to the gorgeous yellow blooms opening each spring in my back garden. Yellow bells bloom spring through fall, and hummingbirds are attracted to their flowers. They are fast growers and have lovely, lush green foliage. To keep them looking their best, prune them back severely to 1-2 feet tall once the threat of frost has passed in spring. There are several notable varieties of Yellow Bells in shades of orange including ‘Crimson Flare’ and ‘Sparky’.

Hardy to 10 degrees F. Plant in full sun to filtered sun.

Shrubby Germander – Teucrium fruticans ‘Azurea’

Photos don’t do this Mediterranean native justice. When viewed in person, people are immediately transfixed by the light-blue flowers (they appear more purple in photos), which appear in spring. I have several scattered throughout my back garden, and for me, they bloom throughout winter too! Using plants with silver-gray foliage near those with darker green leaves is a great way to add interest to the landscape, even when not in flower. I dearly love this shrub for its colorful winter/spring blooms in my desert garden.

Hardy to 10 degrees F. Plant in full to filtered sun.

Purple Lilac Vine – Hardenbergia violaceae

Here is another winter-flowering beauty. Purple flowers cover this vine from February into early March. Believe me when I say that they are a welcome relief to the winter blahs. Bees enjoy the blooms, which resemble lilacs but aren’t fragrant. It does require a trellis or other support to grow up on. When not in bloom, its attractive foliage adds a welcome splash of green throughout the year on vertical surfaces. The Purple Lilac vine is usually found in nurseries in fall and winter, during its flowering season.

Hardy to 20-25 degrees F. Plant in full to the filtered sun but avoid west-facing exposures.

‘Rio Bravo’ Texas Sage – Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’

If you love the color purple, you’ll want to include this variety of Texas Sage in your garden. Branches covered in masses of purple flowers appear off and on spring through fall, often in response to periods of increased humidity. The more humidity, the more flowers produced. There are many different types of Texas Sage and all add color to the desert garden. Now, you may not see them looking like this for the sad fact that many people prune them into unnatural shapes like balls, cupcakes, and even squares. Which would you rather have – a green ‘blob’ or a gorgeous purple beauty like this?

Hardy to 10 degrees F. Plant in full sun for maximum flowering.

Desert Willow – Chilopsis linearis

I want to include a tree in our list of colorful plants for the desert garden. Desert Willow is small to medium-sized tree that are native to the Southwest. Throughout the warm season, branches with bright green leaves are covered with pink blooms. The flowers add a lovely shade of pink, which is a color not always seen in the desert. There are many newer varieties of Desert Willow – I have four different ones in my garden, but ‘Bubba’ is my favorite. This is a deciduous tree and will lose its leaves in winter. 

Hardy to -10 degrees. Plant in full sun.

SO, where can you find these plants?

I am often asked where is the best place to buy plants. Yes, you can head to your big box store, but they usually lack variety and are known to sell plants that don’t do well in our hot, dry climate.

My advice is to look to your local garden center and nursery for these and other plants for your garden. 

I’d like to share with you about a new nursery that is mixing things up in a good way! Four Arrows Garden is a family business, located in Vail, AZ, where you order your plants online and they deliver them to you!

The Chavez family began their business with cuttings from succulents in their backyard that soon grew to people wanting them to offer other types of plants. She explains their unique nursery, “Our business model has changed over the year to fill the need in our community. We have transformed into “not your average nursery” because of a niche market to deliver landscape plants and creating an online shopping outlet for desert-adapted plants. We are different because we allow customers to shop for plants from the comfort of their homes.”

They source their plants from wholesale growers in the Phoenix and Tucson area. While their delivery area is primarily in the greater Tucson area, They can accept special requests from Phoenix area customers.

I encourage you to incorporate colorful plants within your desert garden to improve your curb appeal and your enjoyment of your outdoor space. Local nurseries are the best sources for these plants. If you are in the Tucson area, visit Four Arrows Garden’s online nursery to make your special order and they will deliver it to your door. Check them out on Facebook where Linsay keeps you updated on the latest plants available!

*Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Four Arrows Garden. My opinions and advice are my own.

Have you ever had your day take a completely different turn than you anticipated?  Mine certainly did, and it all started with a discovery behind the lilac vine.

My day was off to a great start.  I didn’t have any appointments or looming writing deadlines.  Couple that with a weather forecast in the 70’s, I decided to spend a few hours working in the garden.

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) back in February

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) back in February.

One of the things that I needed to do was to prune back my purple lilac vines now that they were finished flowering.  They just needed a little light pruning to keep them from growing into my new lemon tree.  

While I was pruning the vines, my little dog, Tobey, was trying desperately to get underneath one of the vines.  I assumed that it was a lizard, but I couldn’t call him off.

our little rescue dog

Now, Tobey, is our little rescue dog who thinks that he is big and tough, but truth be told, he’s not.  But, when I had to carry him inside because he wouldn’t leave the vine alone, I suspected that there might be something else going on.

Purple Lilac Vine

I slowly approached the vine and heard something growl.  Concerned that there may be an injured animal, I slowly parted the leaves, and a cat ran out and jumped over the fence.  

At this point, I assumed that it was a feral cat and that the problem was solved.   

But, I heard some rustling sounds and thought that I could see some movement in the dark confines of the vine’s branches.  So, I ran inside to grab a flashlight so that I could see better.  The problem was, that while we had plenty of flashlights, all their batteries were dead.  

So, I decided to use the flashlight on my cell phone to see what was making the sounds at the base of the vine.  

I slowly parted the leaves and saw what looked like little rats.

newly born kittens.

But, closer examination showed them to be newly born kittens.

newly born kittens.

I could hardly believe it!

newly born kittens.

They were just darling, and I tried to count how many there were.  I think that there were four, but it might have been three.

mama cat

I went back inside so the mama cat could come back.  She hopped to the top of the wall and waited to be sure that there weren’t any humans or dogs nearby before climbing down and disappearing into the vines.

Purple Lilac Vine

So what will we do?    

I talked to my sister who has worked with feral cats in the past.  It turns out they are incredibly self-sufficient.  We’ll probably wait until the kittens are weaned and then trap the mother and get her spayed and then re-release her.  

As for now, I need to break the news about the furry bundles behind the vines to my husband (who sleeps during the day) and the kids once they come home after school.  

4 Furry Bundles Behind the Lilac Vine

In the meantime, the dogs have been banished to the side yard for the time being, much to their dismay…

What has your winter been like?

Has it been unusually cold or warm?  If you live in the Southwest, you have undoubtedly experienced a warmer then normal winter.  

As a result, many plants that are usually dormant in winter, are green and blooming even though it is still technically February.

I started wearing sandals 2 weeks ago, but I still haven’t broken out my shorts yet.  

Last week, I showed you my edible garden, (also known as a kitchen garden), which is located on the side of our house.

Today, I wanted to show you a peek at what is happening in the back garden during this warm winter.

back garden

This is one part of the back garden.

This was my first vegetable garden.  Because this garden is close to the house, I like to plant vegetables that are harvested frequently such as leaf lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.

To the right, you can see my pink trumpet vine.  Behind is a hollyhock getting ready to flower. Against the wall is purple lilac vine in full bloom and peeking through the slats of the fence are nasturtium leaves.

Abraham Darby' rose bush

I have two large rose bushes and the ‘Abraham Darby’ rose bush has a few lovely blooms.  You may notice that this rose has a rather old-fashioned appearance.  This is one of many David Austin shrub roses.

After growing 40 hybrid tea roses in the garden of our first house, I have found that I like shrub roses.  They are easier to take care of (need less pruning) and are very fragrant.

pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana)

The pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) growing up against the pillar of my patio has beautiful, pink flowers.

Normally, it suffers some frost damage during the winter, but during this warm winter, I have had pink flowers all winter long.  The flowers normally show up in spring and fall and are truly stunning.

I went out into the garden and cut the flowers for a lovely bouquet yesterday.

This plant grows quickly and can be grown as either a vine or a sprawling shrub.  

coral fountain (Rusellia equisetiformis)

Another plant that usually shuts down for winter is coral fountain (Rusellia equisetiformis).  I love the arching branches of this perennial and its orange/red blossoms.

My Back Garden

One plant that still looks like winter, is my bougainvillea.

A few days ago, I asked you on my facebook page if you love or hate bougainvillea.  I had an overwhelming response with most of you saying that you liked it.

I have two bougainvillea.  I used to have more, but while I love the beauty of bougainvillea, I don’t particularly like to prune them, so two words for me.

My Back Garden

The blue sky is really the perfect backdrop for the orange, tubular flowers of orange jubilee (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee).

For those who want a tall shrub that grows quickly, then orange jubilee is a great choice.

I recommend using it against a bare wall or to screen out pool equipment.

In fact, I visited a client who used orange jubilee as ‘green curtains‘ for her home.

purple lilac vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

Right now, my purple lilac vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) has taken center stage in the back garden.

Growing up my south-facing wall, they burst forth in a profusion of purple blooms every February and last into March.

The whiskey barrel planter is a holding area where I have planted my extra plants.  I’m not sure what I will do with it later.

My Back Garden

In addition to growing purple lilac vine up walls, I also like to grow it as a groundcover too.

*This vine is easy to find in nurseries in winter and spring, when they are in flower.  However, you can have a hard time finding it in summer and fall.  So if you want one, get it now.

Behind my purple lilac groundcover vine, I have red bird-of-paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) growing.

But,  because it is dormant in winter, it isn’t much to look at right now – but I’ll show you how lovely they are this summer.

My Back Garden

Hollyhocks have a special place in my garden.  I love these old-fashioned flowers and their flowers are truly stunning in spring (they flower in the summer in cooler climates).

They self-seed and come up every year for me.  In a month, the flowers will start to burst forth and I can hardly wait.

The hollyhocks are located next to my smaller vegetable garden and receive enough water from the garden without me having to give them supplemental water.

My Back Garden

Another old-fashioned favorite flower are nasturtiums.  These flowers have a place inside of all of my vegetable gardens.

Not only are they beautiful, nasturtiums also repel bad bugs from bothering my vegetables.  Another bonus is that their leaves and flowers are edible.

The bloom in late winter and through spring.  I let them dry up in summer before pulling them out. They do drop some seeds, so I always have new ones coming up the next year in the garden.

My Back Garden

I have several pots in front of my smaller vegetable garden.  In them, I plant a combination of vegetables and flowers, including bacopa, which trails over the edges of pots.

My Back Garden

There are carrots and leaf lettuce growing in my second vegetable garden.

I step outside into the garden whenever I need a few carrots for dinner and they taste so delicious.

My Back Garden

In the same garden, I am growing celery for the first time.  I must say, that I am quite impressed at how well it is growing and can’t wait to taste it.

Last week, I mentioned showing you a part of my garden that I have NEVER shown anyone.

This is my side yard – NOT a garden…

My Back Garden

This is the space where we store garden equipment, trash cans and our garden shed.  I also have my compost bin in this area.

You can see only half of the side yard in this photo, but you aren’t missing anything by not seeing the rest.

Another purple lilac vine grows along the fence, which hides part of the side yard and a large ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde provides welcome shade.

Our second bougainvillea is located along the wall.  It is never watered and it has been 3 years since it has been pruned.  As you can see, it does just fine being ignored.

And so, I hope you have enjoyed peeking into parts of my back garden.  Of course, I haven’t shown it all to you – just the parts that are blooming.

In a few months, I will show the other areas when they are in bloom.

*******************

So, what is blooming in your garden this month?

Do you have a favorite winter/spring blooming plant?  

I love using vines in the garden.

I have pink bower vine growing in my entry, purple lilac vine growing up the walls in my back garden and pink trumpet vine by my vegetable garden.

But, did you know that you can grow some vines as a groundcover?

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

Years ago, I started using purple lilac vines as groundcovers in the feature areas along golf courses.

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

I was surprised at how well they did.  We pruned them back once they were finished flowering and then a little if needed.

Eleven years later, they are still growing along the golf course and look great.

Purple lilac vine is my favorite vine.  The reasons are that they bloom in February and have beautiful, green leaves throughout the entire year.  They do need a trellis for support if growing along a wall.

Unlike their common name, however, they don’t smell like lilacs.  

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

Even when not in flower, their bright green foliage adds beauty and a visually cooling element to the landscape.

**When purchasing vines, I recommend buying them during their bloom season because they aren’t always stocked in the nursery when they aren’t in flower.

A word of caution when growing vines.  Some vines can become invasive – particularly in humid areas with mild winters.  However, this is rarely a problem in the desert Southwest because of our arid climate.

Have you experienced a warmer then normal winter this year?

I certainly have, although I’m not complaining because my garden loves it.  I took a walk around the garden and was so pleased to see quite a few plants blooming….

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

Plants blooming, Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

My purple lilac vine blooms this time every year, which makes it a great vine for the garden.  The foliage is evergreen in my zone 9a garden through out the year, which is also a plus.

It can be hard to find this flowering vine in the nursery later in the year.  So, grab it now if you want one.

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

Plants blooming, Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

Firecracker penstemon is my favorite plant.  I starts blooming in January and goes until May.  Hummingbirds love it too!

plants blooming

Pink Beauty (Eremophila laanii)

My pink beauty shrub has grown tall 8 ft.), which I love because it covers an expanse of bare wall in the garden.  This Australian native is evergreen in my garden.

plants blooming

Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)

This is my second favorite plant.  Valentine flowers from December through May in my garden, with the peak bloom arriving on Valentine’s Day!  Hardy to zone 8.

plants blooming

Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

Normally, my purple trailing lantana is brown and crispy from frost – but not this year.  Butterflies just love this plant.

plants blooming

Pink Trumpet Vine (Podranea ricasoliana)

My pink trumpet vine blooms next to my vegetable garden.  I just love this plant too!

   

How about you?  Do you have anything blooming in your garden this month?

‘Friendly’ Plants in the Vegetable Garden

I find joy in the simple things and that includes my garden as well.

Yesterday, as I was preparing for my daughter’s 12th birthday party, I realized that I wanted to have a vase full of flowers to decorate the table.  I had no time to go to the store, so I ran outside and clipped some blooms from my flowering shrubs and one of my vines.

full of flowers

The flowers of Desert Senna, Globe Mallow and Purple Lilac Vine.

Although, there were not too many plants blooming, I was happy to have found three types of flowers that would look nice together in a bouquet.

Yes, my bouquet was simple and decidedly un-formal, but that describes me perfectly.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to bring my blooming garden inside.

And so…I plan to create a simple bouquet from the flowers of my garden each month.  I am looking forward to seeing how my bouquets will change as my garden changes through the months.

Anyone care to join me?  Even in winter, small branches from a flowering fruit tree or witch hazel would be beautiful.

Well, I can’t believe that this is my 100th blog post and that some of you are still reading my blog…. ;^)

I have enjoyed meeting so many of my fellow gardeners and those who want to learn how to garden.  I have met people not just from Arizona, but around the country and all over the world.  It just blows my mind how many of us there are, who love to garden and visit beautiful gardens.

The day after I started my blog, I joined Blotanical, which has been such a wonderful place to belong.  I have met many fellow gardeners and have visited their beautiful gardens through their blogs.  I highly encourage those of you who have not visited, to stop by Blotanical…a whole new world awaits you.

In honor of my 100th post, I would like to share with you one of my favorite vines….

Purple Lilac Vine

Purple Lilac Vine

This is one of six Purple Lilac Vines (Hardenbergia violaceae) that I have in my garden.   

Purple Lilac Vine

You can see why it is called Purple Lilac Vine.  The flowers mimic lilacs, but have no fragrance.  They flower in February, when there are few other flowers in the garden.

It does require a trellis or other type of support to climb up against a wall.  

Purple Lilac Vine

Today, when I went outdoors to take these pictures, the bees were happily buzzing about the flowers, greedily gathering pollen.

There is nothing not to love about this vine.  It does not suffer from frost damage in my zone 8b and so is evergreen.  It handles the heat very well, has no thorns and is absolutely beautiful.

Purple Lilac Vine

Long ago….okay about 10 years ago, I planted the vines as a groundcover along the golf course and they worked so well, that I bought some to grow as groundcovers in my own garden.

beautiful

Even when out of flower, they are just beautiful.  They need no special attention.  I do not fertilize them and only prune them every couple of years or so.

And so, this is my type of plant….low-maintenance and beautiful!

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and letting me know what you think in your comments.  I am excited to see what the next 100 posts bring! 

A Simple February Bouquet….